USA/EU: Trump administration imposes new tariffs on whiskey, wine and spirits

As a means for retaliation against illegal European Union (EU) subsidies for aviation giant Airbus, the U.S. government has announced steep tariffs on USD 7.5 billion worth of EU goods, including whiskey, wine, certain spirits. Beginning Oct. 18, these goods as well as other traditional food like olives, cheese, butter and yoghurt will face tariffs of 25% while EU aircrafts will be taxed 10%.

The tariffs will come on top of existing ones that EU and U.S. imposed earlier this year.

On Wednesday, the Trump administration got the legal go-ahead when the World Trade Organization (WTO) officially denounced illegal EU subsidies for the plane maker Airbus. However, the EU is expecting in the coming months a similar vote in its favor concerning illegal U.S. subsidies for Boeing.

“If the US decides to impose WTO authorised countermeasures, it will be pushing the EU into a situation where we will have no other option than do the same," said Daniel Rosario, Spokesperson for trade, agriculture and rural development of the European Commission. “This is a move that will first and foremost hit U.S. consumers and companies and will make efforts towards a negotiated settlement more complicated,” he said.

Airbus chief executive Guillaume Faury warned that higher tariffs on aircrafts could fire back on U.S. citizens and jobs because close to 40% of Airbus's aircraft-related procurement comes from US aerospace suppliers and supports 275,000 American jobs in 40 states.

A group of wholesalers, distributors and importers of European wines and spirits expressed opposition to the new tariffs and said the measures endanger nearly $3.4 billion in imports and put 13,000 U.S. jobs on risk.

U.S. President Donald Trump, on the other side, triumphantly tweeted on Wednesday: “The U.S. won a $7.5 Billion award from the World Trade Organization against the European Union…”. And he added at a press conference later that day "The WTO has been much better to us since I've been president because they understand they can't get away with what they've been getting away with for so many years, which is ripping off the United States."

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